Nothing worth doing is ever easy
So our dream is big; to buy a big sailing yacht and sail around the world (eventually). But what actually happens when you start to make the dream a reality? I think and hope one of the reasons Jim and I are drawn to this new reality is as much to do with the work involved as the pure pleasure. As the old adage says nothing worth doing is ever easy. That's not to say its been too hard either, yet! But doing this is not without its sacrifices, not without devotion and not without the obvious expense. I don't think we could do this unless we were resigned to near total focus on Polaris. To get us to where we are today we have done very little in our free time which didn't relate to progressing this dream and now that we have the boat the same level of intensity continues. And we do love it.
But really, I think I should shed some light on the other side of this endeavor. Not a dark side but the side that acknowledges that this truly is a huge project not an extended sun holiday or a cruise. Of course there has been plenty of sun and we have had great times already and will continue to do so, because that's only half of why we do it. There is a huge amount of work to do much of the time which is rewarding though at times, less fun when surprises crop up that are expensive. The boat is a bit like a living breathing thing which we use constantly to travel in, live in, cook in and which we happen to keep on water, with sea salt in it! So I suppose its not surprising that there is constant maintenance required!
A few skeletons
Our first big passage from Canet en Roussillon, south of France to Marina di Ragusa in Sicily was a proper 'shake down' sail in which we truly tested the boat's capability and the functioning of its essential component parts. And trust me, while brilliant, it like most boats is not without its imperfections caused by wear and tear. Fundamentally the boat is in good working order and sails beautifully but.. if we were buying a boat again I think we would have interrogated the survey much further and we might have hired a second surveyor to see what they might find in addition to the first one. Its not that our surveyors didn't save us some money by identifying some essential works to be done and paid for by the seller but there were a few things that they didn't pick up which are now threatening to cost us a not insignificant amount.
The white smoke, for example, which comes out the starboard side when its engine is run is a worry. The crew that accompanied us on this sail suggested it might simply be a side-effect of very old diesel. Nice of them to say, but alas we have since filled up twice with fresh diesel. Another critical component which we found to be defective is the furling system for the Gennaker. Furling meaning the system by which the sail is wrapped up safely and securely when not in use, the Gennaker meaning the largest sail we own. So yes it is significant that the largest sail does not wrap up properly. We discovered this issue one afternoon after we left Bonifacio. The Gennaker was not being used because we had no need for such a large sail in heavy seas and quite high winds. The wind managed to unwrap the sail and it flogged about wildly. Dangerous for people on the boat and a situation highly likely to result in us losing the sail completely and possible damage to any number of things and other sails on the boat. The flogging sail was tackled to safety though thankfully and Jim, Pavol and Lubo inspected the issue. Conclusion: not sure but not good whatever was wrong with it!!!
And so it begins
So in addition to making our yacht a home, you know, a nice wax table cloth, some decent kitchen utensils and replacing the old name with our new name Polaris in our font, we have actually got a few serious boat things to worry about! Real shame the surveyors didn't spot those two big ticket items! Since these discoveries we have had two guys come to dismantle the furling system which was not easy to watch as they loosened the stays which support the mast! I walked to the shop near the beach to buy lunch and as I returned I was genuinely relieved to see our mast was still visible. You should have heard the noises coming from our boat as a result of the adjustments they were making. And the noises the two men were making with the physical effort of the work they were doing. They ran to the kitchen completely parched asking for glasses of water, I was embarrassed they had to ask and I hadn't first offered. Anyway they left after a few hours and we have now learned that this particular model of furling system is known to have so many issues that the manufacturer provides a heavy discount on the replacement parts! So we wait until such time as the new parts are available and the guys return to fit them.
One last thing
Everything you read about boat ownership tells you that there is always something to work on, improve, fix or replace. We left Polaris on Monday the 10th of September for the first time since we moved on-board. It was strange to leave but knowing we will be returning soon certainly made it easier. This last day was possibly the most chaotic yet as we packed up to leave while also working, having the furling fixer guys crawling all over the boat and trying to tidy, clean and inspect the boat before leaving her. We were to catch the 5:30 pm bus to take us to Catania airport an hour an 45 minutes drive. As we tried to do what felt like a million things at the same time Jim did one last check on various things on the boat. With only minutes to spare before the bus arrived Jim made a discovery. Another little surprise. Water in the bilges! The bus journey, plane journey and taxi journey at the other end to Macclesfield (where we were to work for the week) were filled with a vaguely unsettled feeling. What was the water, salt or fresh? This is apparently important. Where was it coming from? When had it started? At what rate was it accumulating? And WHY oh WHY hadn't we thought to leave a spare set of keys with reception at the marina in case we needed someone to check on this while we were away!